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NASCAR BGN Series Gateway 300 Preview -- #3, Steve Parks

23 July 1997

 #3 Steve Park, ACDelco Chevrolet Monte Carlo
 NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division
 Gateway 300 Advance              
 Gateway International Raceway

Madison, IL - Something about new tracks brings out the best in young 
drivers, and that's good news for Busch Grand National rookie Steve Park, 
driver of the No. 3 ACDelco Chevrolet Monte Carlo owned by Teresa Earnhardt.

Park and the ACDelco team will get a chance to race at another new track this 
weekend when the Busch circuit heads to Gateway International Raceway. The 
1.25-mile track in Madison, Ill., just five minutes east of downtown St. 
Louis, recently underwent a $21.5 million expansion.

And now the Busch cars will test more uncharted waters, just east of the 
Mississippi River, when the green flag falls for the Gateway 300 on Saturday.

"We've had pretty good luck at the new tracks this season, but just about 
every track has been new to me," Park said. "I guess the advantage for me at 
Gateway will be that it's a new track for everyone. Those veterans don't have 
any more experience there than I do."

Park has been holding his own with the old pros on the Busch circuit this 
season. The 29-year-old newcomer from East Northport, N.Y., has a victory, 
six top fives and 11 top 10 finishes in 19 starts and ranks fourth in the 
series standings. 

He's only 104 points behind third-place Phil Parsons, and with 11 races 
remaining, Park's No. 3 Chevy has a real shot at third. Defending series 
champion Randy LaJoie leads the standings with 2,843 points, and runner-up 
Todd Bodine has 2,806.

"Those guys will be hard to catch, but we're not giving up," said Park, who 
has 2,383 points. "We've got a lot of racing left, and we've got some things 
we want to accomplish before it's all said and done.

"I really want to win a pole this season. We've had some good qualifying 
runs, but we haven't been able to win a pole yet. And we want to win another 
race, too. Winning at Nashville was great, but that was more than three 
months ago."

Park was on his way to another victory the last time the Busch circuit 
visited a new track at Texas Motor Speedway in April.

He qualified sixth and ran in the top five most of the race before an 
accident on lap 142 of the 200-lap event at the new 1.5-mile track in Fort 
Worth, Texas, sidelined his No. 3 ACDelco Monte Carlo. Park ended up 35th in 
the 42-car field and dropped to 17th in the series standings after eight 

Park led for 15 laps at Texas and ran second behind Mike McLaughlin for 40 
more laps. But Park encountered problems while passing a lapped car with 87 
miles remaining in the 300-mile event.

"My pride was hurt a little bit at Texas. The guy waved me to the outside and 
pinched me into the outside retaining wall. To be taken out with 60 laps left 
was a heart-breaker. We had a car capable of winning that race."

Earlier in the season at the new Busch stop in Las Vegas, Park rolled the 
dice and finished eighth in only his fifth start on the Busch circuit. That 
was his third top 10 finish of the season. Park has accumulated a .579 top 10 
finishing percentage in '97, and that's quite an accomplishment for a rookie 

"Our consistency has improved, and I've learned a lot as the season has moved 
along," Park said. It's really moving fast, but we've got some good tracks 
coming up. We're going back to some places we've already raced this season, 
and I'm really looking forward to those tracks.

"But those older guys will still have an advantage on me when we go back to 
those tracks. As far as experience goes, we'll be on a level playing field at 
Gateway. You only get one chance to win the first race at a new track, so 
we're going to go all out and try to take advantage of that opportunity this 

By Champion Sports Group